Bordeaux 2023: the vintage by commune

It’s difficult to make broad statements about a year like 2023 in Bordeaux. Following on from our vintage overview, we delve further into the year, breaking it down by commune to offer insight on how each subregion fared in this singular vintage
Bordeaux 2023: the vintage by commune

Main content

Left Bank

Results are more mixed on the Left Bank than the Right in 2023, however there are some serious highs in each appellation – with wines that are well worth seeking out, especially in Pauillac which seems to have fared best in the vintage. 

Beyond the main communes, results are definitely less consistent and – while there are some excellent-value wines from more modest appellations, Haut-Médoc and Moulis, for example, they are a little harder to find than in years where the growing conditions were more favourable. The significant viticultural demands of the year required sacrifices to be made, with reactivity – something much easier with a larger team, more resources and financial reserves – key.  


The conditions in Saint-Estèphe seemed drier over late spring and summer versus other parts of the Médoc. At the very northern edge of the appellation, Calon Ségur reported minimal mildew pressure, as did Montrose, while Cos d’Estournel and Lafon-Rochet, bordering Pauillac to the south, reported more humidity (rather than rain) and therefore more of a battle to protect their crop, especially for the latter address which was in its final year of conversion to organics. Hail was a risk, and the appellation’s anti-hail system was put to good use, avoiding any damage despite the threat. 

Cos d’Estournel explained that heatwaves between 16th and 24th August, and 3rd to 10th September saw some vines stall in maturity, and impacted the Merlot a little – which is why their blends are higher in Cabernet Sauvignon this year. Interestingly Cos d’Estournel and Lafon-Rochet reported significantly different average temperatures for August and September – with a 10˚C contrast, despite being a five-minute drive from each other. 

“Vply 8.15 dite la Marguerite” by artists Fabrice Bittendiebel and Julien Bonnard in front of Ch. Lafon-Rochet

The harvest got underway from 5th September at Montrose and Cos d’Estournel, with most estates finishing by the end of the month, although Lafon-Rochet brought their last fruit in on 5th October. The commune seemed to avoid the late September showers which were significant elsewhere, meaning there was no pause in picking. The appellation had the highest average yield of the Left Bank communes (51.6hl/ha), although estates we visited all reported yields between 40 and 45hl/ha.  

For Calon Ségur, 2023 was “a year of great Cabernet expression” – feeling it received just the right amount of hydric stress. Their Grand Vin includes not only a high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon (and therefore more Merlot in the second wine, Marquis de Calon Ségur) but also 12% Cabernet Franc from some of their highest plots, towards the Gironde, which are up to 80 years old. 

Some of the wines display Saint-Estèphe’s typically austere style this year, however a handful felt overly so – with slightly jagged tannins and alcohols that could stand out (the wines more often sit at 13.5-14% versus the 13-13.5% that we saw elsewhere). That said, there are successes and Montrose has produced an extraordinary wine this year – one that stands out across the entire region for its delicacy and finesse, and is a step up even from its excellent 2022. 

Montrose will also be introducing a new cuvée. As the Grand Vin is now exclusively made from their plots on Terrace Four, a separate wine has been made from Terrace Three vines, which will be unveiled and released at a later date. In addition, Ch. Tronquoy is offering its white wine (a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Gris) en primeur for the first time.   

Our highlights: Montrose, Tronquoy Blanc, Lafon-Rochet, Calon Ségur 


There are some extremely impressive wines from Pauillac this year, an appellation that shone on the Left Bank with its classically built, pinpoint Clarets. 

The Domaines Barons de Rothschild stable argued that Pauillac had benefited from lower rainfall versus Margaux or Pessac-Léognan, with 40-50mm less than Margaux in September, for example; however even within the appellation rainfall ranged significantly. Lynch-Bages pointed to 27mm on 12th September as a pivotal moment, helping the grapes reach full maturity, while Batailley, Pontet-Canet, Lafite and Pichon Comtesse pointed to showers around 20th September. Most estates waited to pick most, if not all, of their Cabernet Sauvignon after this later rain shower, with Batailley and Pontet-Canet holding off until 28th or 29th September to start bringing the variety in. The most important element, however, was that the rain came in small squalls, not heavy downpours, meaning it didn’t prevent producers from getting into the vineyard.  

Bespoke concrete tanks made with marl from the foundations of the cellar at Ch. Pontet-Canet

Although mildew pressure was severe, it only had a quantitative impact for producers – and most estates reported a maximum 5% loss, being able to protect their vines sufficiently throughout the season. As Charles Fournier at Mouton Rothschild said, “We knew our capacity to react.” For the Domaines Barons de Rothschild team it was easier on the Left Bank, only having to spray up to 15 times, versus 19 times at Ch. l’Evangile in Pomerol. 

The mercury soared at points – and Mouton Rothschild reported temperatures of up to 40˚C in late August, which caused some young vines to suffer, especially on well-drained soils. Pichon Comtesse saw the Cabernet in particular blocked in maturity by the heat, something that explains the lower final alcohol levels, while Batailley suggested that cool nights (reaching a maximum 12-14˚C) allowed their vines to continue ripening through to the harvest. 

Yields range from 40 to 50hl/ha according to estate, but are consistently healthy. Alcohol levels are mostly between 13 and 13.5%, with pHs reaching a maximum 3.75, showing great balance. Pichon Comtesse has produced a particularly high proportion of second wine this year, representing 60% of production, feeling a greater degree of selection was needed in 2023.  

Comparing 2023 to the riper, hotter, outstanding 2022 vintage, Jean-Charles Cazes of Ch. Lynch-Bages said, “This year it’s a different melody; it’s very harmonious,” feeling everything is perfectly in balance. Although we won’t see the 2023s from Latour for several years, Rufus Beazley described it as “quintessential Bordeaux”, comparing the vintage to 2016 for its classic style, while Pontet-Canet’s Mathieu Bessonnet feels its combination of structure and transparency is closest to 2001 (a year that was often a reference point on the Right Bank). 

Our highlights: Pontet-Canet, Carruades de Lafite, Pichon Comtesse, Batailley 


While there are some stunning wines in Saint-Julien this year, it’s definitely an appellation with more mixed results. As in Saint-Estèphe, hail was an additional risk for producers in Saint-Julien, although there appears to have been no damage. The three Léoville estates share an anti-hail system and used it five times between April and the harvest, while Gruaud Larose has their own that also saw action. 

At Ducru-Beaucaillou, the team emphasised how a combination of de-leafing and green harvesting was key to managing the mildew pressure, while the Bartons (of Langoa and Léoville) explained how their traditional method of thinning the canopy by hand allows them to get closer to the fruit, and therefore helped protect them. The neighbouring Léoville-Poyferré was one of many to explain how each narrow window of opportunity to spray had to be seized, even over the weekend, to avoid the losses seen in 2018.  

The 2023 vintage was the first to be made in Ch. Léoville Las Cases' new cellar, which is yet to be officially unveiled

With the cool start to the summer and disease pressure, Beychevelle deleafed a lot – but were punished by the end of the summer, with the Merlot in particular exposed to the heat that followed. Harvest generally started a little later here, starting from the second week of September and running through to the start of October, and it was the longest harvest on record for Beychevelle. The commune saw showers around 16th and 22nd September, with most only picking Cabernet Sauvignon after the first patch of rain. Generous yields abounded (averaging just over 50hl/ha in the appellation, although many producers we visited sitting closer to 45hl/ha), and it was the second biggest crop in 20 years for the Barton family at Léoville and Langoa, helping make up the losses seen at their Moulis estate, Mauvesin

In other news, it was the first vintage of Léoville Las Cases to be made in their new gravity-flow cellars, while Léoville Poyferré has a new vineyard manager, Alix Combes – who comes with a heavy focus on research and development and seems like an exciting addition to the team. 

Our highlights: Léoville and Langoa Barton, Gruaud-Larose 


Producers further north would have you believe that Margaux received significantly more rainfall, but Ch. Margaux reported that they only had 1mm more rain from June onwards versus Pauillac. Ch. d’Issan’s tracking shows that, between April and September, June was the only month to receive more rainfall than the 30-year average, but temperatures were consistently higher. 

Nevertheless, mildew was clearly challenging for producers in Margaux. Palmer highlighted the increased efficiency courtesy of their new agricultural centre, while also feeling that a decade of biodynamics has built their vines’ natural resistance. Ch. Margaux explained how they were able to treat all their vines in five hours, using caterpillar tracks and quad bikes as needed to help them get into the vineyard. While they have long farmed organically, 2023 was their first year on the path to official certification. For Marquis d’Alesme it was a practical and economic decision to use an early chemical treatment to help protect their vines from the onslaught – something they were happy about given they saw two months’ damage in two weeks from mid-June.  

Tasting at Ch. Brane-Cantenac

At Palmer, Sébastien Menut compared the “voilé" (literally “veiled” or cloudy) summer to 2014, although the skies clouded over later in that season; in 2023, the sun appeared from mid-August to finish the ripening period. Indeed, Ch. Margaux saw sunburn during the period, and young vines suffered at various estates. Brane-Cantenac avoided their second de-leafing to try and shade the fruit. 

The harvest dates in Margaux vary significantly – some starting as early as 4th September (Brane-Cantenac) and others waiting until 18th (Ch. d’Issan), with the last pickers out until 9th October, some of the latest in the region. Showers here were reported around 12th and 21st September, with Margaux one of the estates to wait to pick their Cabernet after the second shower. Yields are also more varied and more modest at Palmer and Rauzan-Ségla (32 and 30hl/ha, respectively) versus Margaux and Brane-Cantenac (41 and 45hl/ha, respectively), for example.  

The wines are, as with Saint-Julien, more of a mixed bunch and there is a severity to some of the wines, with the acid and tannin standing out. There are, however, some very special wines to be found – such as at Palmer, a “gourmand” wine, as Menut described it. While accessible now, he’s unsure if it may shut down in bottle – but it’s got everything to come out the other side of a dumb period singing. At Margaux, Aurélien Valance compared the 2023’s texture to 2019, with the perfume of 2016 – loving the pronounced, creamy profile of the Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s hard to disagree and the First Growth is, as often, a strong contender for wine of the vintage. 

Our highlights: Rauzan-Ségla, Palmer, D’Issan, Margaux, Giscours 


There were some lovely wines in Pessac-Léognan, combining lively, plummy fruit with bright acidity, although it certainly wasn’t easy to succeed here – and not all did. Some wines have angular profiles, with alcohol levels that can jar and some that lack in substance. 

Looking across to Ch. Haut-Bailly from their state-of-the-art winery

For Smith Haut Lafitte the mildew pressure was particularly challenging on their Merlot, and they lost 40% of the variety, and over a third of their red grapes overall. At Haut-Brion, they found it essential to green-harvest – especially on the Merlot – to remove any tainted fruit, while at Haut-Bailly they felt it was key to use a few chemicals sprays to get the disease pressure under control at the start of the season, having learnt the hard way in 2018 and 2021. 

Come mid-August however, the weather shifted and the vines started focusing on ripening the fruit. The Clarence Dillon team reported a heatwave from 16th to 24th August, while Les Carmes Haut-Brion felt an additional three days at the beginning of September with temperatures over 40˚C were most significant, requiring them to use kaolin to protect the vines – and sort out any scorched berries at harvest.  

Picking got underway from 6th September and finished around 5th October for the reds (see more on the whites below). Rain showers seemed less important, although were reported at the start of September and around 21st of the month – something that Guillaume Pouthier felt was helpful at Les Carmes Haut-Brion, polishing the tannins and bumping up the crop slightly. 

This year’s Smith Haut Lafitte will bear a special label to mark King Charles III’s visit to the estate, while they’re also replanting gravel sites around the château with Cabernet Sauvignon, meaning the second wine will have around 70% of the variety moving forward. 

Our highlights: Les Carmes Haut-Brion, Domaine de Chevalier, La Mission Haut-Brion   

Dry whites 

White Bordeaux remains under-valued and under-rated, and the wines are lovely in 2023. While in warmer conditions the wines can have pungent tropical and herbaceous tones, the 2023s we tasted display a cooler, green-fruited profile, pithy, waxy and mineral. Alcohol levels reach up to 14%, however these seem to be very well integrated. 

The cooler summer conditions with cloud cover through July were perfect for white grapes in 2023. The heat that arrived in the second half of August coincided with harvest dates, with most producers picking from around 21st August, up to 5th September. 

Chateau-La-Mission-Haut-Brion - Blue skies at Ch. la Mission Haut-Brion
Brilliant blue skies over the entrance to Ch. La Mission Haut-Brion

Aurélien Valance at Ch. Margaux emphasised how important it was to pick quickly as the fruit started accruing up to one degree of alcohol in two days; they had all their white grapes in by 30th September, harvesting their best crop for 30 years at 37hl/ha. At Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion, the blends include more Sauvignon Blanc as they found the Semillon suffered more from the heat. 

On the Right Bank, Lafleur harvested their Semillon on 26th and Sauvignon between 28th and 31st August. Winemaker Omri Ram reported that one particular clone of their Semillon suffered with mildew, but found the Sauvignons have “huge energy” – which is certainly true tasting the exceptional whites he’s produced.  

Our highlights: Grand Village Blanc, Les Champs Libres, Pavillon Blanc, L’Esprit de Chevalier Blanc, Aile d’Argent 

Sauternes & Barsac 

This is a fantastic vintage for Bordeaux’s sweet wines, combining great concentration with vibrant acidity that balances the high levels of residual sugar. The very conditions that made 2023 challenging – alternating periods of rainfall and warm weather – were ideal for botrytised sweet wines.  

Sauternes and Barsac saw frost on 4th and 5th April, although with the year’s later budburst there was minimal impact. The cloud cover of the summer allowed for the grapes to ripen slowly, then rapidly under the warmth of late August and early September. From 11th September, 75mm of rain fell over 10 days, allowing for the rapid development of noble rot, which the team at Suduiraut described as “virulent”.  

At Suduiraut, they started harvesting the first trie (pass) from 21st to 23rd September. There was then a gap with dry weather until the second trie between 2nd and 11th October, with the final grapes brought in on 17th and 18th October, as heavy rain arrived. Doisy Védrines picked between 25th September and 12th October, while Doisy Daëne finished later on 20th October with five passes (producing a particularly luscious wine with 175g/l sugar and 12.5% alcohol). 

As Sandrine Garbay of Guiraud explained, there was little gap between the grapes ripening and developing botrytis, which is why the grapes managed to retain such high acidity and the resulting wines have such freshness, as well as great intensity. She and her team picked over three tries between 27th and 13th October, resulting in a wine with 130g/l residual sugar – a modest number for the year – and it has her trademark purity and balance. 

The harvest was short and intense, with the tries often overlapping, producing wines of exotic ripeness – and 150g/l residual sugar is common for the year (around 20g/l more than is normal), yet also good acidity levels. The team at Doisy Védrines compared it to 2003 or 2013 for Bordeaux’s sweet wines, offering richness and vibrancy that is only accentuated by their higher-altitude, limestone site in Barsac. The key, Guiraud’s Sandrine Garbay said, was that, “We had enough time.” 

Our highlights: Guiraud, Suduiraut, Coutet 

Ch. Clinet’s famous red and white façade

Right Bank 

The Right Bank really excelled this year. Although Merlot seemed to suffer on the Left Bank, that does not at all seem to be the case on the other side of the Gironde. While it is not entirely homogenous, there is much more consistency here – especially in Pomerol.  

While our visits are focused on Saint-Emilion and Pomerol, it is worth noting that things were less easy for those in the satellite appellations, where mildew pressure was particularly high. At Le Pin Diana Berrouet Garcia explained that for their Castillon estate L’Hêtre, “We sprayed like crazy.” Noëmie Durantou Reilhac told us how in Castillon 10mm of rain would be forecast and 50mm would arrive, with relentless heavy showers that made it nigh-impossible to get into the vineyard. She spent one Saturday desperately calling anyone she knew to borrow a quad bike so she could treat the vines at the family’s Castillon estate, Montlandrie, one Sunday. Losses were significant: at L’Hêtre they were 50% down, while at Teyssier (Montagne-Saint-Emilion), they only managed to get 5hl/ha on the Merlot – meaning the wine won’t be released en primeur this year. 

Fortunately it was not the case in Saint-Emilion and Pomerol, where yields were mostly as generous as on the Left Bank. For some smaller estates, the vintage sees the return of second wines, as at Clos de Sarpe and Belle-Brise, where these are made only when volumes permit. It’s arguable that the generally smaller size of estates is a contributing factor in quality here – making it easier to treat rapidly and pick in the necessary window to create wines of great balance.  

In Fronsac, the Lafleur team has made the first – and possibly only ever – vintage of Les Perrières to be pure Bouchet, finding the Merlot was less representative of the Cru in 2023. Instead the Merlot from these limestone plots has been blended into Grand Village. The pure Bouchet Perrières is stunning, as these young vines continue to develop their own identity


We started our tastings on the Right Bank in Pomerol – and the quality and consistency was instantly striking. Estate after estate offered up wines of excellence. Having spent three days talking about how Merlot had struggled in the vintage in the Médoc, Pomerol seemed to prove otherwise – attributable perhaps to the area’s cooler clay and porous limestone soils. Several producers suggested that the open nature of the Pomerol plateau helped limit mildew pressure, with more airflow than elsewhere – although others who make wine on both sides of the Gironde mentioned having to do more treatments in comparison to their Left Bank estates. 

Green harvesting was common to manage yields, and Juliette Couderc at Evangile explained how they had to drop around 20% of the fruit to re-balance the vines, while Feytit-Clinet had to do three green harvests for the first time ever (before, during and at the end of véraison). 

Tasting in the cellar at Vieux Château Certan with Guillaume and Alexandre Thienpont

For Noëmie Durantou Reilhac (Eglise-Clinet), the grey skies during July were key to allow for smooth ripening of the fruit up to mid-August when the cloud cleared. As the sun appeared, the forecast was worrying for the end of August and early September – suggesting it would be over 40˚C, although, as Guillaume Thienpont explained at Vieux Château Certan, it didn’t go over 37˚C which was a great relief. At Ch. Clinet, Monique Bailly told us how although the days weren’t as hot as predicted, even the nights were warm, with temperatures up to 21˚C. The team at Le Pin highlighted a shower on 12th September that helped revive the grapes after this heat, something echoed by Vieux Château Certan who felt it was key to creating the round, soft mouth-feel of the wine.  

Harvest got underway on 7th September and the Merlot was all in by the time rain arrived around 20th. As on the Left Bank, some waited to pick any Cabernet after this date, with the Cabernet Franc or Sauvignon all in by early October. From those we spoke to yields are around 40hl/ha, although the average for the appellation is just over 45hl/ha. 

The resulting wines offer such freshness, with a brightness to the fruit that ripples across the palate, with fine and supple tannins. Alcohols are higher than on the Left Bank, largely sitting around 14%, however – with the wines’ concentration and acidity – these are integrated beautifully and barely noticeable. 

It was the first vintage made in the new cellar at Le Pin, with new concrete tanks and a much more ergonomic space. At Feytit-Clinet, we were welcomed for the first time by not just Jeremy Chasseuil but both of his sons, Adrien and Etienne, who are getting involved in the family business while finishing their studies. In other family news, Henri-Bruno de Coincy is now working with his son Marin at Belle-Brise, and they were just about to plant a new plot when we visited. This year (2024) also marks 100 years since the Thienpont family purchased Vieux Château Certan. 

Our highlights: Eglise-Clinet, Belle-Brise, Feytit-Clinet, Vieux Château Certan, Chantalouette 


The wines in Saint-Emilion were a little more varied than those of Pomerol, which is not totally surprising given the much larger size and more varied nature of the appellation. Nevertheless, there are many successes and very few true failures here. 

Ch. Cheval Blanc has produced one of the wines of the vintage

Troplong Mondot feel that the changes made over the past seven years (under the management of Aymeric de Gironde) are having an impact – and it’s certainly a wine that shone this year. With their position at the highest point in Saint-Emilion (at 110 metres above sea-level), they benefit from breezes that helped manage the mildew. For the Vauthier family (of Ausone), the disease pressure was challenging, especially at Ch. de Fonbel and Ch. Simard. As Jean-Basile Roland of Ch. Canon said, the pressure was historic – but they have the luxury that it should have no qualitative impact, and they found the pressure to be less significant than in Margaux (at Rauzan-Ségla). 

Green harvesting was generally less common, although was used at Le Dôme (which is typical for their concentrated style), and a little at Cheval Blanc, Figeac and Laroque, for example. With the plentiful rainfall of the first half of the growing season, the Tertre Roteboeuf team were concerned about ripeness – but by the second half of August, the vines received the stress they needed with the heatwaves, while Pierre-Olivier Clouet emphasised how the water-logged soils allowed them to avoid any sunburn when the heat hit. At Laroque, David Suire explained how the heatwave between 4th and 7th September was crucial for the phenolic maturity of the grapes. 

With this rush of warm weather, the Figeac team had to react quickly. From tasting on 29th August, they decided to start picking their young vines the following week, but when they tasted the fruit again on 5th September, they realised that much more needed to come in – and rapidly picked 14 hectares over the following week, pausing a full 12 days before starting on the Cabernet – feeling the seeds and skins needed more time. For them, the rain was a “kind of salvation”, tenderising the skin and helping with extraction, while at Cheval Blanc the team didn’t feel it was as important. Here too, producers reported a shower around 14th September and another around 22nd

Discovering the 2023s from L’If and Le Pin with Jacques Thienpont

Yields are healthy – most that we visited managing closer to 45hl/ha, although more modest estates suffered more from mildew, which explains the lower appellation average (40.5hl/ha). At Ausone, Edouard Vauthier emphasised how important densometric sorting was key this year, allowing them to sort out some over-ripe fruit that was “confit” (cooked or jammy) along with any dried or green berries. He compares the wines to 2019, although feels they have more freshness, or 2012 but with a more modern style and elegance. For Laroque it’s a vintage that really shines a light on their limestone terroir, and reminds David Suire of 2001, while for Pierre-Olivier Clouet at Cheval Blanc it combines the seriousness of 2019 with the purity and precision of 2016 – with both power and delicacy. He's certainly right, and the best wines in Saint-Emilion this year display gorgeous balance, transparency and layer upon layer of super-fine tannins, with a saline freshness.  

Ch. Beauséjour has been transformed under Joséphine Duffau-Lagarrosse, with the 2023 vintage another step up with new levels of precision and quality; but the evolution will only continue, with work underway for a new cellar – set to be completed in time for the 2024 vintage. At Bélair-Monange, the 2023 was the first to be made in their new winery, designed by Herzog & De Meuron, who also designed the winery at Dominus for the family. The 2023 vintage also marks 100 years since the Beyney family purchased Clos de Sarpe, as well as the centenary for the property’s oldest Cabernet Franc vines. 

Our highlights: Cheval Blanc, Beauséjour, Bélair-Monange, Troplong-Mondot, Berliquet, Canon, Laroque, L’If, La Clotte 

Read our vintage overview or explore all Bordeaux 2023 


Sophie Thorpe
Sophie Thorpe
Sophie Thorpe joined FINE+RARE in 2020. An MW student, she’s been short-listed for the Louis Roederer Emerging Wine Writer Award twice, featured on and won the 2021 Guild of Food Writers Drinks Writing Award.